The ATF National Response Team—Responding to Fires and Explosions

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) National Response Team (NRT), created in 1978, responds to large-scale fire and explosives incidents of federal interest that affect interstate commerce. The NRT can respond anywhere in the United States within 24 hours to help state and local investigators determine the origin and cause of fires and bombings, as well as assist in interviews and other aspects of an arson or explosives investigation. In the nearly four decades of its existence, ATF has activated the NRT more than 700 times, mostly in response to fires and explosions in commercial buildings that affect interstate commerce.

The ATF NRT works with state and local investigators to reconstruct the scene, identify the seat of the blast or origin of the fire, and determine the cause. In those cases that are determined to be bombings or arson fires, NRT members gather evidence to support criminal prosecutions. Since ATF’s jurisdiction covers buildings that affect interstate commerce, most callouts are to large commercial structures with damages of several million dollars or with fatalities.